Seventy-two hours after the incident, a young man dressed in a suit and tie browsed through a high-end gadget shop in Ghirardelli Square to kill time.
“Willy?” Victoire asked, sidling up to him.
He spun around beaming with anticipation. Three weeks, five days and fourteen hours passed without losing himself in her arms. “I missed you so much, if I don’t kiss you right now, I’ll die!”
Her eyes narrowed. “Willy, I told you: we can’t take any risks. I just can’t.”
His fingertips caressed the side of her face. “Okay, okay. Don’t freak out.”
“Are you making any progress, Willy? It feels like ages, and I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to pretend all is well.”
Peter had looked unusually forlorn and stuck close to home insisting she stay with him. She thought he might have a cold, but there were no physical symptoms. She left the house on a false pretext to meet Willy only because he persisted over the phone.
Willy took something out of a bag and handed it to her. “I brought you something.” Victoire’s mood lifted when she saw the packet.“It’s my gift to you, Victoire, negatives and all!” He grinned and watched her devour the contents.
“Oh-my-God,” she uttered, carefully inspecting every single shot.” Her entire body tingled, the cold forgotten. “These police pictures and the ones with ambulance,” she inquired, sitting upright keeping the evidence held close to her chest. “Are they in any way related to the story on the news about the dead gay guy?”
Willy leaned back on the hard bench, crossed his arms, smiled widely and nodded.
Victoire looked at the pictures again, thinking them too good to be true. Her jaw remained wide open. “Did Peter kill him?”
Willy shook his head. “Apparently not. The police are looking for a Turk. He’s the one who got the hell out of the place first looking like the Italian mob was on his tail. Peter and the other two stormed out right afterwards. Check it out.”
But Victoire heard all she needed to know and much more. Suddenly, her blackmail plan took a more twisted turn. An unearthly look took possession of her face. “Do you know what this means?” she whispered.
“Are you telling me?” he chortled. “I saw them escape the scene of the crime. Victoire, your husband just might be an accessory to manslaughter!” He rubbed his cold hands with glee. “Wait till the press gets a hold of this.” He bounded up and gestured with his arms. “A story of this magnitude is going to rock more than just Silicon Valley. Victoire, all you need to do is drop off the pictures at any police station-anonymously-and you’ve got your freedom!”
The hand Victoire hoped to play was much less public. “Wait!” she pleaded. “Just wait, okay?” She stood up clutching the package possessively. “I’ve got to think here.”
A sense of dread assailed him. He expected an entirely different reaction from her. His shoulders slumped.
“I don’t get it, Victoire. You are now in a position to call every shot. Why on earth would you hesitate?” He looked pained, muddled. “Please don’t tell me you have feelings for the guy!” A gust whipped his straight hair about his pale face.
Victoire immediately nuzzled up against his ear and cooed, “No, darling, no. I never have.” She touched him briefly on the mouth. “But I just can’t see a man like Peter capable of hurting anybody, despite everything he is or is not. He’s kind and generous to a fault.” She stood back keeping her hands on his chest. “What kind of a person would I be if I threw him to the wolves, Willy? I couldn’t live with myself. I’ve got to talk to him. Alone.”
“You do what you think is best, Victoire. Just know that I love you. I’ve loved you since the morning I first saw you. There isn’t a day, even an instant, that goes by that I don’t yearn for you. You told me yourself you’re unhappy because you don’t really love the guy. But now you know what he’s all about, and what really makes him tick. Victoire, it’s all there in black and white.” He shook his head and took her face in his hands. “You deserve much more, so much more. Don’t let pity blind you.”
Victoire went in for the kill. “Willy, I’ve prayed so hard to hear you say those words, you have no idea…”
Willy gobbled up the intense, unrestrained hunger of her brief, deep kiss. Every nerve ending in his body sprung to life.
She pulled back and stared at him intently. “I love you. I love you so much that if you don’t wait for me, Willy Waites, I’ll lose my mind!” She grabbed him by the tie. “Swear to me you’re mine, mine alone and that no matter what, you’ll never let me go!”
He pulled her so close to him that she could barely breathe.